I would like to share how language barriers in education can be solved and how best African institutions can go far with languages.
First of all, African institutions basically teach with English and French. These two languages are, to me, the most important languages in Africa right now. If you can speak English or French, there is a probability of you working or living in a higher percentage of places in the African continent and other parts of the world. However, it is very difficult for the African youth to understand or come to a consensus in conversation, argument or discussion when using these two languages. The youth can express themselves and make meaning out of diverse and complex situations when discussed in their local dialect. In my experience, this has been the major failure of many intelligent Africans when given the opportunity to express or exhibit their intelligent or talent at international fronts.
In view of this, I think African institutions should respect their local languages by teaching with it in early institutional stages to enable our young ones understand what their being thought and also express themselves. This will allow teachers at the elementary level to know their students interest but in situations where pupils are being taught solely in other languages at basic levels and they do not understand what is being said; they cannot ask questions nor make contributions. When you travel to Germany to study, there are programmes that requires you to learn and understand German before you can apply. This is because tutors of these programmes can teach these courses best in their local language. If we adopt the method of teaching with both local languages and international languages, it will create more room for improvement. Chinese and Japanese are often seen working in Africa when it comes to road construction and other architectural jobs although they are not enable to speak our languages. The simple lesson is that, they are employed because they are experts in their field of work. If we are able to learn and understand using our local languages we can go far just like the Asians are making it.
However, for African youth impact to make global change, we must be prepared to comprehend problems and solutions in many other international languages but basically English or French. In 2007 and 2010, the highest spoken languages in the world was ranked Mandarin (14.1%), Spanish (5.85%), English (5.52%), then French was ranked 18th with a percentage of 1.12%. From this analysis, not more than 10% of the world’s population speak the two most internationally taught and spoken languages in Africa. It is very good to be fluent in English and French since it is widely acceptable in most places irrespective of its global coverage. However, we must adopt the habit of respecting all languages and make an effort to learn different languages that are highly spoken in other parts of the world (Hindi, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, etc.). We are always reluctant to learn different languages when we become good speakers of English or French and that is a bad habit.
For us to be able to travel to many places and exhibit our talent and intelligence, we must learn and comprehend our disciplines through our local dialects and have the ability to explain and translate what we have learned in many other ways.